Archives of the Isle of Man Oddfellows (District and Lodges)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The deposit is made up of 49 boxes and several outsized loose items. The material consists of:

  • Boxes 1-3: The IOM Oddfellow Headquarters.
  • Boxes 4-7: The District (Provincial Grand Lodge).
  • Boxes 8-9 & 45: The Loyal Mona Lodge.
  • Boxes 10-15: The Loyal Victoria Lodge.
  • Box 16: The Loyal Mona and Loyal Victoria Lodge.
  • Boxes 17-19: The Loyal North Star.
  • Boxes 20-24: The Loyal Tynwald Lodge.
  • Boxes 25-32: The Harbour of Peace.
  • Boxes 33-35: The Loyal Peveril Lodge.
  • Boxes 36-39: The Loyal Hope and Anchor Lodge.
  • Boxes 40-43: The Loyal St John's.
  • Box 44: The Good Anchorage, Ellan Vannin and Howard Lodges.
  • Boxes 46-48: Deceased and lapsed members register slips.
  • Box 49: Miscellaneous items from different Lodges.
  • Outsized items: Numerous dispensations; certificates of different office holders within the Society; photographs; prints; rolls of honour of members and a biography of Thomas Qualtrough PPGM.

The box contents includes minutes of meetings, cash books and cash analysis book, bank statements, banking material, account books, Post Office savings book, correspondence, degree certificates, branch rules and amendments of branch rules, pamphlets, lodge night minutes, declaration books, Treasurer’s account books, ledgers, balance sheets, member subscription cards, health declarations, ‘declaring on certificates’, sick forms, letters, sick pay books, investment and mortgage registers, contribution books, analysis books, deed registration certificates and receipt counterfoils. Further material includes subscription (levy books), proposition books, declaration books, ‘record book,’ fines book, pence book, information on doctors’ fees, sick fund register, District united investment fund book, draft of special rules, copy letter books, nomination book, insurance policy documents, bond book, juvenile contribution book, signed deeds, register of members, list of members, annual returns, applications for junior members, agenda’s and agenda cards, valuations on properties, National Insurance medical certificate, instruction booklet to Lodge officers and a certified copy of an Entry of Death, for the purpose of the Friendly Societies Act.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Isle of Man Oddfellows is part of one of the largest friendly societies in the British Isles. Evolving from the medieval Trade Guilds, Oddfellows began in London in the late seventeenth century, where ordinary people worked together to help each other in times of need. In a time where there was no welfare state, personal insurance or trade unions, joining a society like Oddfellows could protect the ordinary man and his family against illness, injury or death. The Oddfellows motto was ‘Friendship, Love and Truth’. 1810 saw the creation of the ‘Manchester Unity’ Oddfellows formed by a number of local social groups who joined together because they were dissatisfied with the way in which the United Order was run by the ‘Original Oddfellows’. Divided into specific Districts (i.e. the county) and specific Lodges (i.e. the town), it was from the Manchester Unity Oddfellows that the Isle of Man District Oddfellows was eventually, later created.

The idea of Oddfellowship was actually introduced to the Isle of Man by Yorkshire-men J. Forster and Jeremiah Lee. The latter was an Oddfellow from the Yorkshire Unity and proposed they set up a similar society in the Isle of Man to benefit the community. A declaration was signed by twenty men to become members and a dispensation was granted via the Yorkshire Unity. A Lodge was opened in the Saddle Inn, Douglas. However progress was marred due to most of the Lodge members not being local to the Island and therefore not remaining long. By 1835 the Lodge had only nine members with a capital of £9. Members decided to leave the Yorkshire Unity and instead successfully gained admittance into the Manchester Unity in 1835 when the Manx District became ‘The Isle of Man District of the Independent Order of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity Friendly Society’. A total of twelve Lodges were established under the Manchester Unity with approximately over 3,000 members and a capital of over £45,000. The individual Lodges were:

  • The Loyal Mona, the Loyal Victoria and the Ellan Vannin in Douglas.
  • The Hope & Anchor in Castletown.
  • The Harbour Peace in Port St Mary.
  • The Loyal Tynwald Lodge in Foxdale.
  • The Loyal St John’s in St John’s
  • The Loyal Peveril in Peel.
  • The Loyal St Michael’s in Kirk Michael.
  • The Loyal Good Anchorage in Ramsey.
  • The Loyal North Star in Laxey.
  • The Loyal Howard in Onchan

The Isle of Man Oddfellows District appointed their own Officers, Trustees and Committees who conducted business in accordance to Oddfellow rules. The District’s lodges raised funds by levies made upon all lodges belonging to the Manx District, according to the number and ages of members in each Lodge. The main purpose of raising funds was to ensure sums of money to defray the expenses of the burial of deceased members, wives or widows. Funds were used to help District members suffering from illness. Those needing travel assistance while searching for employment were issued a Travel Warrant enabling members seeking work to stay overnight in an Oddfellows Hall, anywhere in the country, free of charge. Funds could be used to grant temporary relief to Lodges or members in pecuniary distress. Income from members’ subscription fees was also deployed to grant temporary assistance to widows and orphans of deceased members, ensure money be available for funeral expenses of members’ children and to be put to use in forming Juvenile Branches. With the arrival of the National Health Service in 1948 Oddfellow membership underwent a sustained decline until in January 1989 all remaining Manx Lodges were instructed to join one financial Lodge. Despite this the Manx Oddfellows still exists and continues to offer its members a unique mixture of social involvement, care, support and financial benefits.

Conditions Governing Access

A small percentage of files are currently closed awaiting data protection review in 2015/16.

Advance notification of a research visit is advisable by emailing library@mnh.gov.im

Other Finding Aids

Printed box list available.

Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from W. Kneale's Oddfellows Companion and Guide to Douglas, Isle of Man (1897: 27-33), IOM District of Oddfellows Rules 1894 (MNH M 38437), and web sites: https://www.oddfellows.co.uk/About-us/History and http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/history/socs/oddflws.htm

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), October 2015.

Related Material

Related material held by Manx National Heritage includes numerous library and photographic archive resources.